Archaeological site, Naturalistic site, and Rock church

The Grotta dei Pipistrelli (Cave of Bats), in the Serra Sant’Angelo district, is a natural cave located outside of town about 4 kilometers from Matera’s Sassi district, on the right side of the Gravina gorge. It owes its name to the presence of bat colonies of varying species. In 1872, the local archaeologist Domenico Ridola found the remains of an altar, sacred images and some fragments of painted plaster in this cave. In addition, under some stone slabs, tombs with skeletons without any funerary offerings were found, dating back to the 18th century. As was customary in the Lombard period, the cave was used as a church, and had the name of Sant’Angelo il Cupo due to the darkness of the cave. Use of the cave for rituals and funerary ceremonies has been attested to since the Middle and Upper Neolithic period, as evinced by the findings of Neolithic ceramic fragments in the Serra d’Alto style. More than one hundred and twenty prehistoric artifacts were found during the archaeological excavations done there, including stone and bone objects from the middle and upper Paleolithic, fragments of vases that testify to the different phases of the Neolithic and the Metal Ages, as well as fossil remains of some extinct animals including: the spotted hyena, the ancient ox, the elapse deer and the cave bear.


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This church is also known as Sant’Angelo lo Cupo. It is unattended and in a state of neglect.